Monday, May 07, 2007

The Edwards Energy Plan

John Edwards is my top choice for President in 2008, at least at the moment. And no, I don't care how much he is willing to pay for a haircut.

DFA has been doing a great job engaging with the entire Democratic lineup on various issues, and their latest was about Energy, Climate Change, and what the plan is. John Edwards was the first to respond, as usual.

I was at first disappointed. It didn't sound like he was setting himself apart. So I went to his website to see more details.

I want to go over this in detail, because there are some great things in here. But they don't go far enough, and they don't capitalize on the most powerful force for change that exists. Federal investment into our economy is critical to make this work, but I'm not talking about Pork Barrel Projects where we would encourage states and local municipalities to brag about how much Federal money they have been able to get from their Congresscritters for local projects. I don't think that's the right approach. Anyway, before I get too high on this soapbox:

Create a new energy economy and 1 million new jobs by investing in clean, renewable energy, sparking innovation, a new era in American industry, and life in family farms. - "1 million jobs" harkens back to a speech that Bush gave in the 2000 campaign, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don't want the Government to create jobs, except as a last resort. I want the demand for products to be high enough to create those jobs in Industry and Commerce. What the government needs to do is increase that demand.

Halt global warming by capping and reducing greenhouse gas pollution and leading the world to a new global climate change treaty. - We're not going to be able to "halt" climate change. It took hundreds of years after the last ice age to stabilize the climate when humans began the Age of Agriculture, and we're not going to be able to halt the coming changes within a single generation. We do need to get the carbon out of the atmosphere, and we need to stop putting more in. But the coming sea level changes and climate shifts are going to hit us no matter how much money we spend. We have to hope for the best AND prepare for the worst.

Meet the demand for new electricity through efficiency for the next decade, instead of producing more power. - Efficiency can reduce our demand, but we still have a growing national population and a growing global population that is pushing that demand up, not down. Maybe we can reduce the rate of demand growth by some of these measures, but we can't delude ourselves into believing that we can invest some money and have all the electrical power that 8.9 Billion people will need by 2050. Sure, I'd love to try, but we have to be honest about it from day one. Underpromise, overperform. Not the other way around.

Cap and Reduce Global Warming Pollution - The description mentions the "most aggressive plans under consideration in Washington" without saying who those plans are coming from. He's talking about the Safe Climate Act of 2007 (H.R. 1590), introduced in June of last year, and reintroduced this year. You can find more information about the bill at and

There he goes again, promoting his 1 million new jobs thing. Here's the reality. Every year, around 100,000 of our kids graduate from high school. Currently the number of unemployed persons in the US is 6.8 million or 4.5%. That sounds like a healthy percentage from my economics class, but do we really only want to help one seventh of the people who are currently unemployed? Either use real numbers, or drop real numbers. One of the two.

Lead the World toward a New Global Climate Change Treaty - The best example of such a treaty was the Montreal Protocol, which limited the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in order to try and stop the destruction of the Ozone layer. Getting something that big on an international level again will take a lot more work than the Kyoto Protocol, which is only scratching the surface of what we will need to do over the next few hundred years. It's a good start, and the cap and trade system described within Kyoto is something that Edwards already has in his plan elsewhere.

Creating the New Energy Economy and 1 Million Jobs

Invest in Renewable Sources of Electricity - Invest how? Here's the crux of the problem that I have, and the biggest thing that is missing from this plan. The first thing that Reagan did in 1981 was to remove the solar panels from the roof of the White House. They were reinstalled in 2003, with little fanfare. If Edwards wants to make an investment in renewable energy, it's really simple to get started. All he has to do is require that all of the Federal Administration Buildings, from the Pentagon to shacks in the middle of the Federal Forest lands, have solar panels installed, not just to help reduce the power consumption, but to BECOME the power generation core of 21st century America. Same with Wind, Geothermal, etc. If the Federal Government takes this on, demand will skyrocket, economies of scale will bring the prices for the equipment down, and more and more businesses and individuals will follow suit with their own investments. I don't think it will be enough, but it should be the biggest part of his "energy plan".

I'll post more later in part 2, because I need to get to work.


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